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Bismarck Tribune article on yesterday’s Small Business roundtable

Home medical equipment regulations challenge small operators

By JESSICA HOLDMAN Bismarck Tribune

Providers of home medical equipment in rural North Dakota say changes to Medicare payment policies could put them out of business.

U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Ombudsman Earl L. Gay met with company representatives in Bismarck on Wednesday to discuss how regulations are affecting how they serve patients.

The Competitive Bidding Program Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awards contracts for items such as oxygen equipment, wheelchairs and walkers. The new bid price replaces the previous fee schedule. The program came in response to reports finding Medicare’s fee schedule for medical equipment too high at times.

But, because of the rural nature of North Dakota, small medical equipment dealers are being forced to compete at a disadvantage with larger companies.

“Rural areas are different,” said John Gallagher of the VGM Group, a home medical equipment trade organization.

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